The world is so scary today, I’m afraid to turn on the TV or open a newspaper.
Instead of scaring ourselves further, I suggest we get out colored pencils, crayons and markers and start coloring. In fact, millions of Americans have taken up this hobby, creating a publishing bonanza. Two coloring books alone, “Enchanted Forest” and “Secret Garden” have sold 13 million copies.
I was not aware of this trend until my 29-year-old daughter, Nicole, showed up for a visit with her coloring book and markers. I always thought you had to have a kid around to color. In fact, the main reason I had children was to have someone to color with and play board games. Now even kid-less adults are de-stressing by coloring.
Forest Park is fortunate to have a great source for coloring books. Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore has an amazing collection. Augie Aleksy stocks over 77 titles, with 250 coloring books to choose from. They contain very detailed drawings along with text. Grade school teachers buy them to teach history. Two popular series feature Asterix, a warrior from ancient Gaul and Tin Tin, a Belgian teenager.
History comes alive on Augie’s shelves, where kids and adults can learn about ancient civilizations, railroads and Native Americans. There are books on race cars, fire engines and airplanes. Colorists can enjoy books on fashion, movie posters and famous paintings. They can even illustrate the Book of Kells if they’re up for it.
When my son was young, I used to pick up books on military history and we’d color outlandish uniforms for Civil War soldiers. We also enjoyed “Spot the Difference” books, finding the subtle alterations between two identical-looking pictures. This was a fun affordable hobby. The books only cost four or five bucks. My kids remember “coloring nights” when we would blast music, turn on bright lights and color our brains out.
Coloring is an accessible way for us to express our creativity. It reduces anxiety and stress. It could even prevent violence. A study of mass murderers showed that 90 percent of them lacked playtime during their childhood.
However, not everyone thinks coloring is a healthy habit. Susan Linn, writing in the New Yorker, believes adults are immersing themselves in escapism to avoid confronting the world around them. She also sees it as a symptom of the Great Recession. Adults tend to take up childish activities during tough economic times.
Personally, I think coloring is more productive than staring at our phones. It’s calming to color and we have something to show for it when we’re finished. Some even frame their creations. Adults gather for BYOB coloring sessions, which sounds like a made-for-Forest Park activity. Augie said he was open to hosting an adult coloring session.
As for my daughter Nicole, she picked up a book titled “Colorama.” The book contains paisley patterns, stained glass and other challenging drawings. She can spend 45 minutes coloring one page. She took up this hobby to de-stress and fill up empty time while she waits for her baby to come.
Yes, she’s due on Dec. 20. We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. We just hope the kid can stay inside the lines.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.